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July 28, 2005
Every Day HeroBy Mrs Greyhawk
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Scott M. Biscuiti
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (July 22, 2005) -- A humvee carrying four Marines rolls along a quiet dusty road near Al Anbar province, Iraq. The vehicle nears a suspicious pothole in the road and maneuvers around it. An explosion from a double-stacked mine hidden in the pothole thrusts the front end of the vehicle in the air and sends shrapnel flying. The humvee crashes down violently.
All the Marines in the vehicle received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received. However, for Lance Cpl. Anthony J. St. Dennis, it was his second in less than two months.
?When I joined I figured I would be going (to Iraq), but I never thought I would be a combat veteran or receive a Purple Heart,? said St. Dennis, a stinger missile gunner with1st Stinger Battery, 1st Marine Air Wing.
St. Dennis, a Detroit native, joined the Marine Corps on his 17th birthday but did not choose a specific military occupational specialty.
After completing recruit training at Parris Island S.C., Sept. 3, 2003, he learned he would be a stinger missile gunner with 1st Stinger Battery.
Soon after arriving at the unit in April 2004, St. Dennis learned he would be deploying to Iraq.
?On April 1, he said he was going to Iraq,? said Kathleen B. St. Dennis, Lance Cpl. St. Dennis? mother. ?I asked if it was an April fools joke. He said no.?
During St. Dennis? time in Iraq, he suffered wounds on two separate occasions within a two-month period. Once from an insurgent?s bullet and another from the blast of a mine.
?I didn?t realize I got shot until I got back to base and looked at my arm and saw my blouse soaked in blood,? St. Dennis said about his first wound received in Iraq.
He was a 240G medium machine gunner in the lead vehicle of an explosive ordnance disposal escort team sent to destroy a suspected improvised explosive device. The driver of the vehicle attempted to evade a pothole concealing a double-stacked anti-tank mine, but the pressure of the tire on the ground was enough to set it off, according to St. Dennis.
?I was hit with shrapnel in my right shoulder. It ruptured my left eardrum, and I sustained a concussion,? St. Dennis said.
Every Marine present at the explosion shared the same first thought, and it was not about their own injuries, St. Dennis said.
?The number one thing on my mind was the other Marines,? St. Dennis said. ?The Marines I was there with took care of me, helping me heal up and get me back in the fight.?
Five months after his second wound, St. Dennis learned he would be leaving Iraq and heading home.
?I didn?t know if I?d ever see him, or if he would come back wounded or dead,? said his mother. ?When he left Iraq and went into Kuwait, he said ?Mom, you don?t have to worry anymore.? When he said that, a weight was lifted. I could sleep at night after that.?
Regardless of St. Dennis? location, he maintains a positive attitude about life, according to Lance Cpl. Joseph S. Dwyer, a friend from his unit who served with him in Iraq and received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received from the mine explosion.
?He?s a jokester,? said Dwyer, a Douglasville, Ga., native. ?He?s the guy who no matter if the situation is good or bad, he makes everyone laugh to ease the tension.?
Though St. Dennis jokes a lot during his off time, he puts the title of Marine before all else, according to Dwyer.
?When it comes to the Marine Corps he is very serious,? Dwyer said. ?If a Marine needs something, he will be the one to take care of it. He puts other Marines before himself.?
?He paid for his aunt and me to come here with his hard-earned combat pay,? she said proudly. ?It was an honor to meet all his fellow Marines. He is an only child, but now I see how many brothers he really has.?
Posted by Mrs Greyhawk / July 28, 2005 1:48 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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